Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Moose with Nowhere to Go!

OK,  since we’re getting closer to the December UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, issues around global warming are buzzing in my mind.  Therefore this Blog is as much about greenhouse gases and energy consumption as it is about moose!  So, you are probably asking:  how does a moose relate to climate change?

Well, actually displaced creatures, including humans, relate to climate change; in the case of wildlife species such as moose the connections are mostly to do with the building of hydroelectric dams. 

The green image of hydro-power is often touted by governments eager to appease demands for clean alternatives.  However, damming large swaths of land results in the production of more greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide.  Submerged plant matter rots and gradually releases carbon dioxide and methane bubbles which rise into the upper atmosphere.  One molecule of methane traps approximately 30 times as much heat as does carbon dioxide!

Of course there is the possibility that some of the methane could be sequestered and used for electricity.

The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China caused a lot of controversy, displaced about two million people and disrupted endangered wildlife.  However, the dam provides 10% of China’s electricity needs so of course many people view it as a success story. 

There is of course, the option that we continue to seek more sustainable sources of energy and reduce our wasteful consumption of electricity instead of just seeing it as an endless resource for the taking.   When you consider the disparities in subsidy funding in the US and other countries, one might ask what would happen if the coin was turned and renewable energy received the larger subsidies!

Wild moose are large herbivores that inhabit mixed  deciduous forests in the temperate or subarctic parts of the northern hemisphere.   Moose can be found right across North America and they were introduced to Newfoundland in 1904.  The same moose species, Alces alces  can be found across Europe and parts of Russia and China, but is called Elk there.
Here is a website that has a lot of good information about moose!

Lesson Plans!
1.     Conserving energy means turning off electrical appliances when they are not in use.  Invite students to do an Energy Audit to see how much they can change their energy consumption habits.
2.     Learning about wetlands is a good way for students to discover sustainability because wetland systems work in a sustainable way.  This EPA guide is a good place to start.  Are there any wetlands close to where you live?
3.     Moose are ruminants.  What does this mean and what other species are ruminants?
4.     What do the students think about the Yangtze River dam project?  Discuss what happened there and ask if they have any alternatives ideas of what could have been done.
5.     Use all this information and create a geography lesson!  Russia, China, Newfoundland – explore all the places that moose live!
6.     If you are teaching younger children, invite them to play the : Footprint Game

Story:  I couldn’t find a Moose Legend that I thought would really be appropriate for the kids, however, I found an interesting set of real life moose stories

Interconnections:  In the Wolf Blog, I mentioned the effects of the wolf population on the quaking aspen trees – the absence of wolves led to larger populations of elk grazing young saplings thereby inhibiting their growth along riverbanks resulting in a myriad of consequences.  So too, wolves keep moose populations healthy and prevent large areas of saplings from being destroyed.  Nature evolves in an intricate balance; the minute there is an imbalance there can be serious consequences.

The Moose Song!  I have uploaded it to my MySpace page with the lyrics – it is a free download as long as it is up there!  The lyrics of this song really do describe what happened to me!  I did see a moose sitting in a field and since the region, north of Montreal, had had so many new logging roads carved into the forest, I just saw this little cartoon balloon over his head that said, “I’m just a moose with nowhere to go!”.
 When I was on my cross Canada Rainbow Road Tour, my assistant Andrea Ralph and I created some fun actions for the moose song; basically we made it into a line dance!  I am sure you and the kids you teach can come up with some creative ideas!

Have fun!
In gratitude to the Earth and all of life!

PS: Those of you visiting this Blog page  – you will see that I am added as my own friend!  This happened as I tried to send a message to my first follower, and I am unable to take it off!  Any ideas? :D

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